Skip to main content

Volume 53 Supplement 6

Special Issue: Magnetic Reconnection in Space and Laboratory Plasmas

Solar photospheric magnetic reconnection


We investigate photospheric magnetic reconnection due to an encounter of oppositely directed vertical magnetic flux sheets, performing 2.5-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) numerical simulations. We construct the initial flux sheets adopting the thin flux tube approximation. Since actual solar resistivity possesses a maximum at the temperature-minimum region, we adopt a resistivity model in which the resistivity is described as a function of height with a maximum (where the magnetic Reynolds number = 1000) at a middle height of our simulation box. Owing to the resistivity, the Sweet-Parker type reconnection occurs at the middle. The inflow speed (υ i 160 m/s) is nearly equal to the speeds implied by observations of canceling magnetic features on the photosphere. Thus photospheric reconnection seems to be a cancellation mechanism. It is shown that upward propagating MHD slow mode waves are generated by an upward reconnection jet. Moreover, when we incline the initial field lines 30° from the vertical direction in the other flux sheet, Alfvén waves are also generated as a result of the reconnection. The energy flux carried by the slow modes and Alfvén waves are 1010 and 108 erg/cm2/s, respectively, and the durations are 40 s. Since in models of solar spicules upward propagating slow waves or Alfvén waves are usually assumed as the initial perturbations, we compare the energy of both waves. It is found that the wave energies due to the reconnection are comparable to those assumed in spicule models. Thus the photospheric magnetic reconnection might be one of the causes of solar spicules.


  • Garcia de la Rosa, J. I., M. A. Aballe, and M. Collados, An example of the cancellation of magnetic fields during the decay of an active region, Sol. Phys., 124, 219–226, 1989.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hollweg, J. V., On the origin of solar spicules, ApJ, 257, 345–353, 1982.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hollweg, J. V., Alfvénically driven slow shocks in the solar chromosphere and corona, ApJ, 389, 731–738, 1992.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hollweg, J. V, S. Jackson, and D. Galloway, Alfvén waves in the solar atmosphere III. Nonlinear waves on open flux tubes, Sol. Phys., 75, 35–61, 1982.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kovitya, P. and L. Cram, Electrical conductivity in sunspots and the quiet photosphere, Sol. Phys., 84, 45–48, 1983.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kudoh, T. and K. Shibata, Alfven wave model of spicules and coronal heating, ApJ, 514, 493–505, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Litvinenko, K., Photospheric magnetic reconnection and canceling magnetic features on the Sun, ApJ, 515, 435–440, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parker, E. N., The solar-flare phenomenon and the theory of reconnection and annihilation of magnetic fields, ApJS, 8, 177–211, 1963.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Richtmyer, R. D. and K. W. Morton, Difference Method for Initial Value Problem, 2nd ed., 401 pp., Interscience Publishers, New York, 1967.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts, B. and A. R. Webb, Vertical motions in an intense magnetic flux tube, Sol. Phys., 56, 5–35, 1978.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rubin, E. L. and S. Z. Burstein, Difference methods for the inviscid and viscous equations of a compressible gas, J. Comp. Phys., 2, 178–196, 1967.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schrijver, C. J., A. M. Title, A. A. van Ballegooijen, and R. A. Shine, Sustaining the quiet photospheric network: The balance of flux emergence, fragmentation, merging, and cancellation, ApJ, 487, 424–436, 1997.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schrijver, C. J., A. M. Title, K. L. Harvey, N. R. Sheeley, Jr., Y.-M. Wang, G. H. J. van den Oord, R. A. Shine, T. D. Tarbell, and N. E. Hurlburt, Large-scale coronal heating by the small-scale magnetic field of the Sun, Nature, 394, 152–154, 1998.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Solanki, S. K., Small scale solar magnetic fields: An overview, Space Sci. Rev., 61, 1–188, 1993.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sterling, A. C. and J. T. Mariska, Numerical simulations of the rebund shock model for solar spicules, ApJ, 349, 647–655, 1990.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sturrock, P. A., Chromospheric magnetic reconnection and its possible relationship to coronal heating, ApJ, 521, 451–459, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Suematsu, Y., K. Shibata, T. Nishikawa, and R. Kitai, Numerical hydrodynamics of the jet phenomena in the solar atmosphere I. Spicules, Sol. Phys., 75, 99–118, 1982.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sweet, P. A., The neutral point theory of solar flares, in IAU Symp. 6, Electromagnetic Phenomena in Cosmical Physics, edited by B. Lehnert, pp. 123–134, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1958.

    Google Scholar 

  • Takeuchi, A. and K. Shibata, Magnetic reconnection induced by convective intensification of solar photospheric magnetic fields, ApJL, 546, L73–L76, 2001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Akitsugu Takeuchi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Takeuchi, A., Shibata, K. Solar photospheric magnetic reconnection. Earth Planet Sp 53, 605–609 (2001).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Current Sheet
  • Slow Wave
  • Magnetic Reconnection
  • Magnetic Reynolds Number
  • Coronal Heating